The Bowman Gray celebrities were out in force on Halloween weekend at Bobby Watson’s Carteret County Speedway. The result was a great night of exciting racing at America’s nicest short track.
Bowman Gray wrapped up it’s season earlier this month in Winston-Salem crowning Tim Brown the modified champion, Tommy Neal tops in the sportsman division, Billy Gregg reins as the street stock champion while A. J. Sanders collected the stadium stock title. That being said, the chance to race one more time in 2022 attracted the Bowman Gray racers to Carteret County Speedway like moths to a flame!
Drivers began arriving midweek in part to get a feel for the spacious racing surface of Carteret Speedway compared to the football field-sized home track at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem. This is really different but exciting and challenging was the comment from most of the Bowman Gray competitors, most of whom were racing at Carteret Speedway for the first time. In fact this was the first time ever Bowman Gray raced at Carteret as a group.
Another great crowd was on hand despite the cool late October weather and they gathered round the drivers during the meet and greet/trunk or treat on the front stretch as the festivities began.
Up first were the stadium stocks! Season champ A.J. Sanders sat this race out nursing a bad back but his son, Stephen Sanders flew the family flag with pride, scooting to the lead by lap two of thirty and held that position for the first 10 laps.
A yellow restart on lap 10 created a side by side battle between Sanders and Chuck Wall. Wall pushed the 81 into the lead and the fierce fight for first sent Sanders into a spin on lap 12 and to the back of the field for the restart. Blaine Curry in the 16 took advantage and moved into second place but Sanders simply roared passed the field and once again challenged Wall for the lead.
A lap 20 yellow meant a 10 lap sprint to the finish and after a quick side by side battle, Wall took the lead for good enroute to the checkered flag. Sanders was second followed by Curry in the 16. Wall would later say, “The last 10 laps I ran for everything it was worth.”
Once again Carteret County Speedway dropped both the white and the pink checkered flag as October is breast cancer awareness month.
Next on the track was the Sportsman division featuring not only season champion Tommy Neal in the 21 car but his grandson, Riley Neal piloting the 07. The first 25 laps of the 50 lap race were paced by Sterling Plemmons in the 03 who along with Zack Clifton and Dylan Ward, ran 1-2-3 and the trio enjoyed a two second lead on the field.The biggest battle off the lead was for fourth where grandpa and grandson where in a real family duel. Turns out, the younger Neal (Riley) had the fastest car on the track and left grandpa in his wake and started closing the gap on the leaders.
A yellow on lap 42 changed everything! Ward headed the 08 to the pits and the door was wide open for Neal who grabbed the lead on the restart and wasn’t about to give it up. Neal took control even as Wesley Thompson made his move to finish second while Clifton held on for third place. Season champion Tommy Neal finished fourth and would later say, “My car was just too loose.” While frustrated Grandpa Neal was happy for grandson Riley who raced a great race.
Before jumping into his Madhouse Modified, season champion Tim Brown judged some halloween costumes during the intermission. Brown took that time to say how excited the Bowman Gray racers were to be at Carteret County Speedway and hoped this race would grow bigger and better and become an annual event.
Brown, a 12 time modified champion at Bowman Gray took early control of the 60 lap modified race.Behind the wheel of his brightly colored orange modified, Brown grabbed the lead on lap 5 and while Boo Boo Dalton gave chase, Brown held the lead for the first 39 laps when the yellow flag came out.
Dylan Ward who brought out the yellow, was done for the night in the 7 car but surprisingly, brown also pitted. His team worked quickly and Brown was back on track for the restart but at the back of the field.
Dalton now had the lead but in turn one on lap 44 Brown retook the lead with an inside move on Dalton and as they say, that was that! Brown, Dalton and Brody Jones shared the modified podium.
Last but not least, the street stocks took over Carteret County Speedway. Fifteen cars going 40 laps, what could go wrong? How about a yellow in turn one even as the green flag was still flying to start the race! How about a three car crash on lap 12? Yes sir the street stocks had brought their madness to Carteret and the fans were loving it.
Season title holder Billy Gregg sat this race out but another Gregg, Nate, was in the 28 and was flying round the track. David Creed in the 02 and Gregg would battle at the front of the pack all night. They both avoided minor mishaps behind them and focused on taking the checkered flag. Kevin Gilbert in the 13 and the 99 of Bryan Sykes battled for third most of the night but it was the Gregg-Creed battle for first that had the crowd's attention.
When all was said and done, Gregg took the checkered beating Creed by hundredths of a second! Gilbert and Sykes finished third and fourth respectively, the top four all within 1.7 seconds of Gregg.
Another great night of racing in the books at Carteret County Speedway and we will do it all again this Saturday November 5 as we feature the Carolina Mini Stock Nationals. As always the driver meet and greet is at 5pm racing at 6pm.